Tech Talk: Get Acquainted With Chromebook Keyboard Shortcuts

The Google Chromebook platform is a solid choice for many people seeking a lightweight, inexpensive and competent computer for lightweight tasks. The Chromebook is perfectly suited for dealing with email, especially Gmail, browsing, social networks, and handling documents in either Google Docs or Microsoft Office format. Some modern Chromebooks include a touchscreen but all include a keyboard and as such, for most of the time users are encouraged to use the keyboard to interact with their device as well as the track pad. For those users who are handy with a keyboard, Chrome OS includes a large number of keyboard shortcuts that can speed up how we use the Chromebook computer. If you have received a shiny new Chromebook as a holiday gift, it’s worth investigating the keyboard shortcuts as some of these could save you a lot of time.

These keyboard shortcuts can be illustrated on the screen by holding down both the CTRL and ALT buttons and then tapping the “?” key. This pops up a handy interactive keyboard reference on the Chromebook screen showing the keyboard shortcuts. Pushing the SHIFT, CTRL and ALT keys shows what that particular key combination will type or do on the Chromebook and as you can see there are great many keyboard shortcuts and special characters available. With there being so many different keyboard shortcuts available, the first one to learn is indeed the CTRL, ALT, ? shortcut However, there is some good news because the Chromebook platform shares a number of similar keyboard shortcuts with other operating system platforms.

Firstly, let’s cover some of the Chromebook basics - including how to access the Caps Lock command as Google excluded this button from the Chromebook keyboard and instead use the Search command. To activate the Caps Lock, tap ALT and the SEARCH button, and to deactivate tap the same keys again. Another missing button is the Delete key - the Chromebook has the BACKSPACE key but not a delete. To access this, hold down the ALT key and use the BACKSPACE. There is no Print Screen command either; for the Chromebook, hold down the CTRL key and tap the overview key. You can also produce a screenshot of the window under focus using the CTRL, SHIFT and overview key, a new tab is opened by holding down the CTRL key and tapping T, or a new Incognito window using the CTRL, SHIFT and N combination. Existing tabs may be closed using CTRL and W. In the file manager, a new folder can be generated by holding down CTRL and tapping the E key, and an existing file or folder may be renamed using the CTRL and ENTER combination. When selecting a hyperlink, this can be opened in a new tab by holding down the CTRL key when clicking.

Many users enjoy the Chromebook’s built-in word processor and here, Google have provided a number of keys to help. The missing HOME and END keys can be accessed by holding down the CTRL, ALT and up or down arrows respectively, and these are very useful for scrolling to the bottom of a long document. The Print command is reached by the CTRL and P button combination, the document zoom command is accessed using the CTRL and + and - keys. As with the Windows platform, the Cut, Copy and Paste commands are CTRL and X, CTRL and C and CTRL and V respectively. CTRL and Z is the Undo command and CTRL and Y is the Redo command. Selecting all text is another command shared with Windows: hold down the CTRL key and tap A. This is a lot of keyboard shortcuts to be sure, but they can be extremely useful in a pinch and if you're someone who likes to be as efficient as possible when and where you can, then these shortcuts should definitely be given consideration if you're also a Chromebook user.

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About the Author
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David Steele

Senior Staff Writer
I grew up with 8-bit computers and moved into PDAs in my professional life, using a number of devices from early Windows CE clamshells and later. Today, my main devices are a Nexus 5X, a Sony Xperia Z Tablet and a coffee cup.